Pharmacy reform threatens on-site medicine dispensing in smaller towns

Pharmacy. Photo is illustrative.
Pharmacy. Photo is illustrative. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Changes to the law on pharmacies will make access to medicines more difficult in provincial Estonia away from the larger population centres, according to a report on ETV current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera.

Opening hours in these areas do not meet the 40-hour-per-week minimum which is the case in the largest settlements (large here constituting anywhere with over 20,000 inhabitants) of Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Pärnu and Kohtla-Järve.

Away from these centers, pharmacies will also not be required to produce and dispense drugs on-site, and would need to order them from one of the five largest towns, if and when the bill becomes law.

This would mean that pharmacies in Võru, in the southeast of the country, and Paide, in central Estonia, would order their medicines from Tartu pharmacies; on Saaremaa, pharmacies may have to order from Pärnu, on the mainland.

As reported on ERR, the State Agency of Medicines (Raviamet) had already warned of the impact the reforms would have on drug availability away from the major towns.

The changes also apply to smaller hospital pharmacies which will have to order pediatric medicines from the larger centers – themselves already under pressure here.

Pharmacies produce around 100,000 doses of prescription medicines a year of these types, mainly in the form of nasal ointments for children, and various skin creams, but also medicines for babies and infants, according to the report.

General pharmacies in Kuressaare, the capital of Saaremaa, currently do have facilities and facilities for the preparation of medicines, the report said.According to Maarja Tiitson, who works at Saaremaa's oldest pharmacy, this is not a daily occurrence, but about 30 medicines are prepared at their pharmacy within a six-month period, mainly ointments.






Editor: Andrew Whyte

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